Energy transitions and climate security in Brazil

Authored by: Fabio Farinosi

Handbook of Transitions to Energy and Climate Security

Print publication date:  November  2016
Online publication date:  November  2016

Print ISBN: 9781857437454
eBook ISBN: 9781315723617
Adobe ISBN:


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As of 2014, Brazil was the world’s fifth largest country and the seventh largest economy. 1 The majority of its population of about 206 million inhabits the main cities – 85% of the total in urban areas, mainly in the coast. 2 Sao Paulo, its largest metropolitan region, hosts the biggest financial market in South America and one of the most important ones in the world. In 2014, the service sector accounted for 71% of the total GDP (~2.2 trillion US$), followed by the industrial sector (23.5%) and agriculture (5.5%). The country’s exports largely consist of the exploitation of natural resources (iron ore, manganese, bauxite, nickel and limestone) and agriculture (soybean, sugar cane, corn, and wheat). Brazil’s endowment of natural resources is extensive and sufficient to ensure the country’s energy self-sufficiency. 3 Brazil is amongst the countries that draw the highest share of their energy supply from renewable resources. While the world average is a mere 13% of total energy supply, Brazil stands out as a clear outlier with over 43% of the total energy mix. 4 The contribution of renewable energy is made possible by the extensive exploitation of the complex and extremely abundant hydrological system for electricity generation. Brazil has, in fact, the world’s second largest hydropower installed capacity after China. In 2014, hydropower represented about 70% of the total installed capacity and 80% of the total electricity produced. 5 Biomass, ethanol, and biodiesel are also extremely important for the Brazilian energy sector. Moreover, the recent discoveries of offshore oil and natural gas reserves are expected to change the role of fossil fuels in the future energy balance.

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